Monday, April 11, 2011

A Place In The Sun, A House In The Country

It's been back to reality with a splash today as we woke to rain, wind and grey skies. I hope you've had at least some of the beautiful weather I've been enjoying this weekend.

I finished university for a 3 week Easter break on Friday, something I was pretty happy about and because I had the afternoon free before catching my train, I hit the beach with a friend and one of her housemates. To say it was pleasant to be able to walk along the beach, barefoot, without a cardigan or jumper would be an understatement.


Clockwise from top left:

View from university window as I was walking out at lunchtime on Friday

Meet Nia. Nia has a thing for tennis balls and lives with my friend Mel.

Nia was quite excited by the beach.

Flowers on my wander. I couldn't resist the colour.
It was a pretty perfect way to spend the afternoon before spending 2 hours on a rammed train heading to meet The Guy for our weekend and a fab way to relax after what had been a pretty heavy going couple of weeks. And the weekend just got better from there. I could not have asked for a more perfect way to start my break.

As you might know from my post Be Right Back, I headed down to Herefordshire and Hay-on-Wye to stay with my grandparents for a couple of days before heading home. The Guy and I were both looking forward to a couple of days off before a more normal routine of work and revision kicked in at home, and we were granted just that.

My Grandparents live in a house which stands on the grounds of a larger property with some of the most beautiful gardens I've seen. Although the gardens of the property are open to the public, they are rarely disturbed and my grandparents house is set a little away from the main parts of the property. To say the location is stunning, doesn't even begin to cover it and the glorious sun with all its warmth only made it better.


Clockwise from top left:

A memorial to the son of the owners of the property who died in an accident. A peaceful and beautiful part of the grounds.

The main house, really beautiful and the owners are incredibly friendly.

A stream runs right through and around the part of the gardens. Pathways, stepping stones and benches all make the most of it.

The main house

Just a few of the beautiful flowers in the garden.
Aside the gorgeous location, we were well and truly spoilt by my grandparents. We were cooked for on Saturday evening, the Dinner Menu:

Parma Ham with salad and home made dressing

Butterflied Chicken breasts, lightly fried in breadcrumbs with herbs and garlic, home made chickpea and vegetable fritters, grilled aubergine slices, char grilled peppers, sauteed potatoes and salad

Home made baked chocolate cheesecake with strawberries and home made vanilla ice cream.

And not only did we get to eat all of this yummy food, we were not allowed to lift a finger in preparing or serving it, despite our best attempts to pitch in and help. Talking about anything and everything and catching up is one of my favourite ways to spend an evening, over a few glasses of wine and good food. It wasn't complicated, it wasn't hard work, it was relaxing, pleasant and all the things I love.

The Guy and I also spent a few hours in the nearby village of Hay-on-Wye on Saturday. Hay is famous for the literary festival that takes place there each year in early June. The festival is a brilliant day out with events that you can buy tickets for such as readings by authors, book signings, lectures and debates, as well as stalls selling books, crafts, fruit, food and music events too. During the rest of the year, visitors come to Hay-on-Wye for the selection of bookshops. There are specialist antiquarian bookshops, some of the best second-hand bookshops I've ever come across, and one of the largest bookshops in Europe too. For The Guy and I, this is pure heaven. I didn't buy any books, given I had to bring home so many for revision purposes, I thought it better not to, but The Guy managed to find 6 and paid less than a quarter of their RRP. Having had lunch outside at a small cafe in the village we headed back, and spent the whole afternoon sitting in the sun- The Guy with one of his new books, me with the fashion supplements from several newspapers, which Jill (I call these grandparents by their first names) had saved for me. As close to a perfect day as I could imagine.

The other absolute joy of this location is the lack of phone signal. Both The Guy and I have BlackBerrys and much as I love it for the ease of communication, forgetting it (and much of the outside world) existed for 2 days was amazing.

Have you all been enjoying the good weather? If you're not a fan of the warmer weather, what do you do to get away from it? And does anybody else love the feeling of being out of touch with the world for a few days?

I'm now off to catch up on all your blogs from the weekend, in between dealing with the washing an ironing, but keep an eye out for some inspirational strawberries later in the week....                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
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